As I sat with my youngest daughter at the NHL game on Saturday night, I got a text message from my dad. It was an update on my older daughter's soccer game. It said, "Score is 4-3. E scored 2 goals."
I thought he was kidding, not because my daughter isn't a good player, but she plays defense. She rarely makes it across the midfield mark in a game, much less gets close enough to score a goal. She's scored one goal all season. And the one week neither of her parents are there, she scores two goals and apparently has the game of her life.
While we had a great time in St. Louis with our youngest (you can read about it here), I was disappointed to have missed my older daughter's stellar performance. It feels like I missed a special moment. And I hate that.
As parents, sometimes, we miss those moments. Oh, not just the goals being scored or the big events, sometimes we miss the teachable moments. We look back at our day and think, "Wow, I missed a great opportunity." And a lot of times, we beat ourselves up for missing it.
I wish I could have been at my daughter's game. I wish she hadn't picked the one game all season that neither of us were there to have the best game she's ever had. I wish I had gotten to share that moment. But would I have given up the memories we were making with our other daughter to do so? Probably not.
I could sit here and wallow in disappointment that I missed her game. But you know what? There will be other soccer games. I will never be able to go back and capture this particular moment in her soccer life again, but there will be others. There will be tournaments to win and games where she's terrible. She might even have another two-goal game, and I will be there for most of those.
Just like there will be other teachable moments. If I miss one today, then I'll just have to look for one tomorrow. It's easy to beat ourselves up over a lost moment with our kids. Sometimes we think, "If I were a better parent, I would have dealt with that better" or "If only I hadn't been so busy, I could have captured that moment."
We all miss the moment sometimes. And it's OK. Recognize that you missed it, ask God to provide you with another teachable moment, and move on. No parent is perfect. We all screw up. We get mad when we should be calm. We chastise when we should teach. We focus on rules when we should be looking at our kids' hearts.
God knows we screw up, and He loves us anyway. He loves us so much, He's always willing to give us another chance to do better. When we screw up, we need to acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness (from God and our kids), and ask God for help to do a better job next time. When we ask God for forgiveness, He gives it and forgets about it. Psalm 103:12 says, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." We're the ones that get stuck in remembering our failures, and it keeps us from moving on to the next moment.
Don't wallow in disappointment or compare yourself to another parent. God chose you to be the parent of your child. He's going to give you all the tools you need to do so. If you miss a teachable moment, He's going to give you another one. It won't be exactly the same as the first one, but you'll get another opportunity.
I won't get another shot to see the fantastic game my daughter played on Saturday. But I will see a lot more soccer games and a lot more goals. You might not get another shot at the teachable moment you let slide by yesterday, but you will see more teachable moments today. If you're not busy dwelling on what you've missed, you'll be ready when they come around.